Maryland players said they couldn't wait for a real game this season after winning their first five by an average of 42 points.
The fifth-ranked Terrapins' first true test wasn't all that different from the others, a 70-54 victory over No. 10 UCLA on Friday in the semifinals of the Puerto Rico Shootout.
Terence Morris matched his career-high with 22 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to lead the Terrapins (6-0) into Saturday night's championship game against Pittsburgh, which upset No. 4 Kentucky 68-54.
Maryland, which beat American University of Puerto Rico 82-32 in the opening round, put on quite an open floor exhibition in breaking the game open, turning turnovers by UCLA (2-1) into highlight clips in a 17-6 run to start the second half.
"We got thirsty and then we goT going when we stepped it up in the second half," Maryland guard Steve Francis said. "We started feeding off their turnovers, and when you can turn a team like that over, you know the defense is doing what it should."
Morris, who was 9-of-12 from the field, had two of the spectacular plays in the run for the Terrapins, who led 32-24 at halftime: a dunk on a touch pass from Francis, and a fastbreak dunk. Francis, who finished with 18 points on 6-of-9 shooting, followed those dunks with one of his own off an over-the-head pass from Laron Profit, who stole the ball near midcourt.
"Pressure like we can exert gets you out of your offense," Maryland coach Gary Williams said. "You can work things like that at this time of year against young players."
UCLA, which has 12 freshmen and sophomores on the roster, missed sophomore point guard Baron Davis against the Terrapins' pressure, which forced 24 turnovers. Davis is still rehabilitating after major surgery on his right knee. He is expected back this season, but has not received medical clearance to play.
"I thought we did a good job defensively with our matchup zone but when they got up 14, 15 we hato go to the man-to-man and I knew with their quickness and experience they could exploit it," UCLA coach Steve Lavin said.
Juan dixon's 3-pointer ended the second-half run and gave the Terrapins a 49-30 lead with 14:46 to play. Maryland stretched the lead to as much as 60-37 with 8:23 left on a jumper by Francis, a junior college transfer.
"Once we got the defensive intensity up, we knew it would be tough for them to stay with us," Francis said.
Dixon, who was 3-of-6 from 3-point range, finished with 11 points for the Terrapins, who shot 45 percent (24-for-53).
Earl Watson led UCLA with 17 points after needing 11 stitches to close a cut on his shooting arm after a fall in the Bruins' 69-62 opening-round win over San Francisco.
"I won't make any excuses," Watson said.
Morris, a sophomore forward who leads the Terrapins in scoring at 17.4 points per game, scored 22 points earlier this season against Hofstra.
"Terence can give you power and he can give you finesse," Williams said. "He's so quick he's hard to cover with a bigger player, and when you go smaller he posts up. He's a tough match up."
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